The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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October 28, 2015

The Small House at Allington

Now that we're five-sixths of the way through the Barsetshire novels {with JoAnn from the start! thank you, my friend! and with Lisa and Meredith this time, which was so lovely} I'm noticing with great pleasure that the books all seem a little different from each other.  At the same time, I love the recurrences of favorite characters and knowing what has happened to them. This might not make sense, but I'm good with that. :)

There's been, in not-very-deep terms, lots of church politics and real warmth in The Warden, broader clerical humor {and characters who can't possibly be topped} in Barchester Towers, a little bit more of a Jane Austen-y feeling in Doctor Thorne (and a slightly boring character who was the hero, and a very admirable one who wasn't, and Miss Oriel. And Miss Dunstable!) and ... (we were chatting on Twitter the other day about which of the books are favorites, and some of us agreed that Framley Parsonage wasn't.  It was almost 800 pages ago, but it's horrible that I almost can't remember what happened in that one, at all, except for what happened to Miss Dunstable. That's a difference in itself.  But re-reading my notes on it brought its other very good parts back. The conversaziones! :)}

Speaking of not remembering, I read The Small House for the first time about 16 years ago {I remember, because of that line about being forty if you're going to be forty} and as I read it this time I realized that though I remember liking it, I didn't remember anything more than Lily Dale's name. {I think that's more about the passage of time than the book.}  There was something refreshing in the differences in this book.  Lily is kind of snarky, and I found her more enjoyable {if not necessarily more admirable} than many of Trollope's other heroines.  In fact I don't think any of the main characters in this book were set up to be admirable, and that's what made them delightful. {Dr. Crofts, maybe, but that makes him less interesting than the others. Or the squire and Lord de Guest, but they're at least colorful as much as admirable.}  I got a little tired of Johnny Eames' boardinghouse-mates, and would have liked to spend a little more time with the horrid de Courcys and Lady Dumbello.

All in all, though, I think we've all agreed that we can't wait for everything to come together in (all 981 pages of) The Last Chronicle of Barset, which we'll be reading together next month and into December.


Lisa said...

I agree with you about the boarding-house drama, except for Miss Spruce :) And I did actually feel sorry for Mrs. Roper, who is trying her best to keep a responsible lodging-house.

Onward to the Last Chronicle :)

JoAnn said...

Yes, yes, yes to every point mentioned above!

I also had a post in mind (as you've noticed I haven't managed to actually write it) about the subtle differences between these novels... and have been wondering if we may see the same thing in the Pallisers or whether each of his standalones has some particular or unique quality to it.

I never expected to love these novels as much as I have. Certainly Trollope is responsible for a large part of that, but there is much to be said for reading... and "Trolloping"... with friends :)

Sunday Taylor said...

Enjoyed reading your comments about the Trollope novels. How fun this sounds, to read them along with a group of reading friends!

Thank you for visiting!

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